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From the Super Bowl to the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus: Two Memorable Weekends

March 18, 2016 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Six

It was a brisk morning. The air was fresh, and already the people were scurrying to and fro. The vendors had set up shop. The media was swarming. The fans were gathering the paraphernalia of their favorite team. Again, I had breakfast at the buffet table. Leah, Dawn, and Herb, Jr. had another appointment. Leah left instructions that we – Latoya and I – had to be at the Stadium at 12:30pm. We departed at 12 noon. The sun began to show off its radiance. As we made our way to the Stadium, there was a sea of people. They were like an army of ants transporting bread crumbs. There were many security checkpoints.

Having gained access to the Stadium, we located our seats. It wasn’t long before I began to feel uncomfortable. The sun seemed to have singled me out for special consideration. I sat for about half an hour and began to think that the game would not start for another 3 hours or so. Once the game started, it would last for another four hours. Then, there was the arduous task of getting through the crowds and back to the hotel.

A feeling of weakness and “out-of-sorts” slowly crept through my body. I thought of the comfort of my hotel room. It seemed ever so inviting. I made the decision, which I thought I would regret for the rest of my life. I carefully considered the options: to stay at the stadium through the hours and risk becoming ill and ruining everyone’s weekend; or, go back to the hotel, watch the game in a relaxing place, and sustain a high-level of health and euphoria. I decided for the room. The fact that I had a heart operation in December 2015 helped to persuade me to make the decision. It’s only by the grace of God, and my original program that I was able to be up and about, and take this long trip so soon after the operation.

After fighting my way back through the crowds, I settled in my room. I sat and watched the Super Bowl game. It was not all bad. After all, not only did I have the comfort, but also the interesting pieces of information about the teams, the players, the nuisances of each play, and the perspectives of the announcers on the game, which I would not have gotten at the stadium.

At half-time, I went down to the lobby for a sandwich. The place was packed. It was difficult navigating through the swarms of humanity. The volume was ear-splitting. Everyone was talking, yelling, or making some kind of noise to the top of his/her lungs. Some folks were even trying to sing. It was pandemonium.

The half-time show was performed by Beyoncé, Coldplay, and Bruno Mars. Beyoncé and her troupe evoked the loudest and lewdest responses. I began to feel that these Super Bowl parties were desecrations. It seemed that most of these revelers knew nothing and cared nothing about football. They were there to party, and to do other things. I believe this was true across the country. I know it was true back home. People who never talked football throughout the year suddenly became interested in the Super Bowl.

I thought of the young players on the grid iron, putting forth maximum, mental, and physical energy, and getting banged, pushed, shoved, tackled, stepped on, etc. Inevitably, some would be hurt. There is always the possibility of permanent damage. While they are battling each other on the playing field, innumerable parties are happening across the country. People scream and don’t know what they are screaming about. They drink, dance, and do any kind of the sexual, suggestive act – as close as possible to the real thing; and, perhaps, doing the real thing in certain places.

It’s not about appreciating football – the skills, the ingenuity, the creativity, or the superlative strength and agility which these young men exhibit; or, the wisdom and strategies of the coaches. It isn’t about any of that. It is about getting intoxicated, and having what we call “a good time.”

It reminds me of the time when I was younger when we used to go to Birdland, a famous nightclub at the time, to listen to the Giants of jazz, specifically, Bebop, which was/is essentially an accelerated version of jazz, which was in vogue at that time. It was the avant garde of music.

It was in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Occasionally, scattered through the club were rowdy, intoxicated customers, completely oblivious to the musical genius that was on display. I wanted to scream, “Shut up! You are disrespecting the musicians and their music. Don’t you know you’re in the presence of and listening to the jazz masters?” Sometimes, it would be Charlie Parker, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Cecil Payne, Art Blakey, etc. At the time, I felt it was a desecration, but I didn’t have the word to describe it. What I felt at that time was similar to what I felt at Super Bowl 50 – in fact, all Super Bowl games.

I waited on the line for my sandwich as long as I could, but my anger kept building. So, I decided to return to my room and finish watching the game. When it was over, I had something else to be upset about. My team, the Carolina Panthers, lost. I wanted to see Cam Newton become another Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl.

However, I wasn’t too disappointed. After 75 years of playing and watching sports. I’ve come to believe that, in Championship games, when two teams are equally or almost equally matched, it is the breaks, the referee calls, or stupid mistakes which determine the winner. So, watching the games through the year, particularly near the end of the season, the teams which were winning would more likely be the teams which would play in the Super Bowl. Several games before the Super Bowl, I watched Denver more closely. They seem to get all of the breaks. I began to feel that they were on their way to the Super Bowl and might win it. When Super Bowl Day came, at the very beginning, they got a favorable referee call.

A Carolina player caught a pass from Newton. The ref ruled the pass as incomplete. A video replay was shown. Clearly, the player never let the ball hit the ground. That is the way that I saw it. The announcers saw it the same way, but the referee ruled it otherwise. The referee had the final say.

In the next play, Newton fumbled the ball in the end zone. It was a retrieved by a Denver player, resulting in a touchdown and six points. The point after touchdown made it seven. Then, the Carolina Field Goal Kicker, who had a near perfect year, missed the field goal. The ball hit the right upright, and bounced away from the crossbar. Thus, Carolina missed the opportunity for three points on a “fluke kick.”

The next day, we caught the 11 a.m. flight back home. It was nighttime when we arrived. The warmth of Santa Clara was gone. We were back in chill and cold of New York City. In any event, the real Super Bowl for me was the experience of being with my children for an exciting, educational, enjoyable, and interesting, adventuresome, and loving weekend. But, no matter where I “roam,” there’s no place like home, especially when I’m returning to a loving home and a loving wife. Indeed, I am blessed beyond words.

…to be continued.